Every competitive multiplayer game has it – that class, weapon, or loadout that is often played by newbies because it’s easy to pick up and seems overpowered at the start. After just a few Global Testfire sessions, one has even emerged in Splatoon : the ink roller. There are four weapons in Splatoon , three different kinds of ink guns and the melee-oriented roller. It’s great for spreading ink all over the levels quickly, which is crucial to winning Splatoon ‘s online Turf War mode. It’s also a strong weapon, provided you manage to sneak up behind another player before they can splat you from afar.
Despite the fact that none of us have spent more than a few hours with Splatoon, we’re already hearing some people call for nerfs to the ink roller, while others have decided that it is vitally important to attack roller-users as cheap players or (gasp) noobs. Guess what? We’re all noobs at Splatoon , and it’s way too early to be calling for nerfs or other balance changes. It seems like some folks have a serious case of PBW – premature balance whining. And those who are calling other players names for enjoying a fun weapon in a brand-new shooter aimed at being newcomer friendly? That’s just plain lame. It makes me glad Splatoon doesn’t have voice chat, because apparently we don’t deserve it.
The ink roller might be a bit overpowered now, but I suspect that will change quickly. In fact, it had already started to change by the end of the demo weekend. During the first demo session, we saw a range of weapons being deployed. In the second, it wasn’t uncommon to find teams that were near or completely full of rollers. By the end, people had started to figure out counters to the ink rollers, and balance had started to be restored. Just think, all this happened over the course of just a few hours total.
Ink rollers have some obvious counters, after all. They have very little range, and rollers use bombs as secondary weapons, which are a bit awkward to aim and aren’t terribly difficult to dodge. Roller players are most deadly when they’re able to sneak up behind another player and whack them on the head. Death by roller is avoided by thinking on your feet and watching what’s going on around you. Get too wrapped up in a firefight or with soaking an area with ink and you’re a prime target for a roller ambush. Killing roller players doesn’t require a tremendous amount of skill. If you’ve got a ranged weapon, use your range and the environment. Get up high where it’s more difficult for rollers to go. Duck behind the many barriers that have been conveniently provided for just such a purpose instead of running straight towards the giant roller like an angry badger. Watch out when a bomb gets thrown at your feet. It’s not rocket science.
On the other side of things, newbies and inexperienced shooter players are likely to be attracted to the roller. Not everybody is comfortable aiming with an analog stick (and the gyro controls are hardly better), and the purpose of the roller is easy to understand. But the roller also has those aforementioned obvious weak spots, so these players will need to learn to be sneaky and become better at the game in general in order to survive. The best team composition for Turf War is likely to include a couple rollers and a couple gunners to cover them. There’s room here for all kinds of players, and we’re sure to see plenty of skilled roller players emerge along with the inevitable players who are still learning. If you’re so wrapped up in victory that you get angry if a newbish roller is on your team, it’s time to step away from the Wii U and contemplate the meaning of life… and by “contemplate the meaning of life,” I don’t mean “spew insults all over Reddit.”
Splatoon is a great chance for the competitive shooter genre to attract new players and remind us all that playing games is supposed to be fun. In fact, the Global Test Fire weekend showed just how much fun the game is going to be. It’s a great, well-executed concept, and the paint roller weapon is a part of that concept. Let’s not spoil the fun with premature balance whining and name-calling. The ink roller: live it, love it, or learn how to counter it. Ink on, and have fun!